Category Archives: Other People

This Day

I get up early. I didn’t used to, due to decades of insomnia, anxiety (both diagnosed and un-diagnoed), and some light drug use. Once I had a baby, though, I learned how to fall asleep. STAYING asleep is a whole ‘nother thing but once I put down my Kindle, turn out my light, roll over to my side and arrange my covers so they’re covering my ear but not my whole head (routine is important), I am OUT.

But I’m 44 now. I wake up in the night, every night, at least twice. The first time because I have to pee (I drink a lot of water) and the second time because I’m sweating my balls off. So I get up, change into dry jammies, and turn the air-conditioning down as far as I dare, what with the shivering husband in the bed next to me. How I can be on fire and he is frozen is a tale for hormones to tell, I guess.

So I get up early, around 5:45 most days. I come downstairs, let the dogs out, get Jill’s breakfast together, and go into her room to unwrap the sleepy burrito that is my daughter. I scratch her back and pat her bum and sing songs to her until she gets fed up with me and swings her long legs out of bed.

While I’m waiting for her to finish her boot-up sequence, I usually get on the computer and check out my internet landscape. Did I inadvertently start a Facebook fight? Did a celebrity die? How are the friends doing? I click around and absorb whatever news I can stand until it’s time to shove Jill out the door to the bus or head to the gym.

The only thing I do differently on THIS day is visit a certain website. I used to check this one every couple of days – it was filled with sharp, funny writing (and equally sharp, funny comments), baseball groaning, advice, and musings on pop culture. It had been ages since I checked in over there, and the author of that site had been drifting away from it for years, anyway.  When I clicked over this morning, I was surprised to see that the post from this day last year was still in the “newest post” position. Had it been that long?

It has been that long. My various internet communities have grown and changed and shrank and changed over the years, this one as well as many others. I clicked back out and got my day started, knowing I’d probably check again every hour or so until this year’s post appeared, as it eventually did.

She always posts on this day (or the day after). There are twenty of them now. Will there be twenty more? I don’t know. I like to hope so, in the way that I hope Don will someday surface on this, his birthday. Happy Birthday, Don.

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One Year Later

It was overwhelming, but surprisingly chill. 
 
Have you ever tried to get 13 people ready to go and out the door with a firm deadline? Normally, it's chaos. Last year, it was easy. We piled into cars and got to the train station at what seemed like a too-early time. Luckily, we were at the end of the train line so we were able to get on and get seats, most of us. Even that far out, that train was packed full and there were times when it stopped and couldn't let anyone else one, because we were at capacity and beyond. Where I'm from, that usually leads to fisticuffs. But not that day. 
 
When we finally emerged on the Mall, it seemed… sparse. I started to think that maybe the detractors were right, that people weren't going to show up. That they'd been swayed by the ones who said "it's not safe." But as the minutes ticked by, the Mall filled up. Slowly, at first, and then all of a sudden, there were people EVERYWHERE. We clambered through shrubbery and over landscaping to try to get closer to the stage to hear the speakers. We helped women old enough to be our mothers climb trees so they could see and hear.
 
It was… big. It's almost impossible to overstate how big this thing was. And not just physically – on an emotional, spiritual level, it was huge. To look out over this sea of people, wearing hats, holding signs, holding each other, chanting, singing, dancing… It was a display of unity that has never been seen before.
 
And it was literally worldwide. There were individuals doing their own marches. There were clumps of people, groups of people, rivers of people, seas of people, taking to the streets to say "you will not ignore us."
 
At one point, the group splintered and half of us tried to make our way to a side street where there would be more room to move and maybe breathe because it was CROWDED on the Mall. We pushed through and kept pushing and that's when it really hit me: we were three full blocks from the Mall and still making our way through a solid mass of people and it was like that in EVERY direction.
 
Eventually we heard that the formal march component of the day would be cancelled because of the overwhelming number of people. Since phone/internet service was sporadic, at best, not everyone got the memo and we did march a bit after all.
 
When things died down, we made our way to the bar to regroup, decompress, and start to digest this thing we had just be involved in. The group trickled in, with some additions we'd picked up along the way, and we spent the late afternoon/early evening watching the news on the bar TV, with reports coming in from around the world.
 
We weren't just part of history – we were MAKING IT that day. And we knew it. 

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Something Happened Today

Body-positivity is not easy, you guys. It takes a lot of hard mental/emotional work to get to a place where you are happy with the body you HAVE. This is doubly true if the body one inhabits is not the body that society/media/the world tells you is acceptable or desirable.

Lucky for me, I’m not terribly concerned with being accepted or desired, but I’m still human. I’d like to lose a little weight. I’d like my clothes to fit better. I’m fairly healthy but I’d like to stay that way now that I’m like, an actual adult person. But it is HARD to walk around in a body that people abhor and even fear.

AND I’M NOT EVEN THAT BIG. I’m on the border of a size 14 and size 16. It’s not the happiest place to be, because shopping is problematic on the best day, but that’s where I am and it’s fine. I am an average-sized woman. Genetics are NOT on my side – while there is a range of sizes amongst the women in my family, I was pretty much destined to have either a big ass or a big chest and SURPRISE!! I GOT BOTH! Thanks so much, doughy German ancestors!! MORE SCHNITZEL!

Anyway, aside from all that, I’m also a runner. I am fat and slow and that’s my lane, but I run. Slowly. I was doing that today! I have a 2-mile loop that I stomp around, and my current mantra is “fuck this, finish strong” so I run hard (for me) for about the last 100 meters, from the trail to where I park my truck.

This leaves me all red-faced and sweaty and generally pretty gross. Salty. I forgot deodorant this morning so I’m a little funky. And I’ve been recovering from bronchitis that turned into pneumonia, so my lungs are still getting back into the swing of that whole “breathing” thing. Freddie says he’s going to get me a shirt made that says “I’m not dying, this is just how I breathe.”

This was my state when I made it to the car, fished out my keys and started to stretch.

Two women parked next to me looked over at me and one of them snorted, “Fat girls look so tired! I’m so glad I don’t have to work that hard to stay this thin.”

Oh. OH!!

Now, some of you know that I am a big fan of the witty comeback. I spend a lot of time in online comment sections being hilarious and clever and a little bit rude. I’m not always like that in real life because honestly, who has the time, and 90% of the time I’m not paying attention anyway. But today? Oh.

I stood up.

I walked over to this woman and looked her straight in the eye, smiled, and said, “It’s so nice the sun is out today, isn’t it?” I never break eye contact.

She stammered some kind of reply.

I kept smiling, kept looking her in the eye.

“Sorry.” [mumbled]

Still smiling, still making eye contact.

“You will be.”

[smiling]

Then I got in my truck and went to Starbucks for my big-ass bucket o’coffee.

What did I mean by “you will be?” Welllllll that’s the beauty of that kind of statement, isn’t it? It means everything and nothing at the same time. I hope it confused her. I hope she takes a look at the women in her family and realizes that yes, the adipose will come for her, too. Or maybe her family is full of thin women who are cold all the time. Maybe she’ll find that someday, she does indeed have to work “that hard” to stay “that thin” and she’ll wonder if it’s worth it.

I know what I meant. Someday, she will, too. In the meantime, I will continue to run, continue to be slow, maybe be less fat (probably not, though).

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To The Mother of the Kids Down The Street

Yeah, I saw you this morning when you were walking your kids to school. You don’t have to pass right by my house, but you chose to. It’s unfortunate that I was walking my kid to the bus stop at the same time. Or perhaps it was deliberate, I don’t know and to be quite honest, I don’t really care.

Did I stop to speak to you? No.

Did I even look in your direction? No.

Why?

BECAUSE YOU DO NOT EXIST.

Your kids and my kid tried that whole friendship thing. Over the course of two years I watched as things would ebb and flow between them, and I stayed out of it for the most part. Kids will be kids, and a large part of growing up is learning to navigate the social flow. As an only child, my daughter struggles with it a little bit. Your kids have each other to pummel and negotiate with.

The first time, Jillian came home from the playground in tears because your son wouldn’t leave her alone. I didn’t press for details but I did gather that she’d asked him to stop and he would not, and it progressed to him hitting her. Maybe it was in jest, I don’t know. But what I do know is that I asked you to talk with your son about putting hands on my daughter and that bit of business stopped.

The second time (and a few times thereafter), she came home in tears because your daughter said she didn’t want to be friends anymore. I didn’t get involved because that is normal little-girl behavior and it tends to work itself out. A few days later, they were palling around the neighborhood as if nothing had happened.

Then we have the incident from a couple of weeks ago. Jillian comes home from the playground in tears (AGAIN), and when I asked what happened, I got a garbled mess of what sounds like an attempt at bullying and ended with “[Your kid] hit me.”

That’s when I stepped in. I told Jillian in no uncertain terms that if ANY of your children EVER hit her again, she has my permission and my blessing and my support to give it back as good as she gets. I’ve even told her where on the body she should aim.

After I calmed her down and cheered her up, I sent you a note saying that while I understand kids mess around, if yours can’t control themselves around my kid, then we’re going to have to have a talk. I know you’ve said that I think I’m better than everyone else, and that’s mostly true. I might not be better than everyone else, but I’m miles ahead of you because I’m not raising a bully. Or two, as the case may be.

And that’s why I didn’t even look in your direction this morning.

It’s not that I’m ignoring you, it’s that you simply don’t exist.

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Remembering Lou

When a famous person dies, people mourn. It can seem strange, to mourn someone you only know through their art or music or words, but it’s natural, I think. The music and art and books we love are what help shape us as people, and it starts almost immediately after birth because the best kind of parents understand that their children are blank slates and you can almost make them do anything you want.

Any of you who are acquainted with me or my brother know that we can be deeply strange individuals. It’s the kind of weirdness that’s not born – it’s made, and it’s directly attributable to the various family road trips we took as children.

In the early 80s, we didn’t have minivans (thank God) or in-car “entertainment” systems. We had the radio (and hoo boy, when we upgraded to a tape deck in the car, my mom was pretty sure her life was complete), and each other and what we could spot out the windows as we drove down the US Routes of the country (my dad hated interstates and we avoided them as much as possible).

I don’t remember which trip, exactly. It could have been any or all of them. But Wee Andy and I were in the backseat of my mom’s enormous green 1977 Thunderbird. This car was huge. AND GREEN. It was like the Hulk in automobile form. Ma had typed up and printed out lyrics to a few of her favorite songs and we were forced asked to sing along. Before you ask, let me tell you that no, you probably won’t be allowed to sing Neil Young’s “Powderfinger” for the 2nd grade talent show. Apparently the sheet music for piano for this song is not readily available to your average elementary-school music teacher.

ANYWAY.

One of those songs was Lou Reed’s “Walk On the Wild Side.” Perfectly appropriate for your 8- and 5-year-old children to sing along with, yes? Well, of course. Andy and I sang backup, obviously, because while it’s perfectly fine to have your grade-school children sing the “colored girls'” part, they drew the line at having us sing about fellatio.

See? We did have limits!

All of this is to explain why I’m feeling sad that Lou Reed died. His work with the Velvet Underground and his subsequent solo albums were never really in my regular listening rotation, but I appreciate his music for the art that it so obviously is. He was, by almost all measures, a fucking genius. And he earned the the right to the arrogance that is part of his legendary persona.

In his book “Lipstick Traces,” Greil Marcus posits that the Sex Pistols changed the world. For a long time, I fully agreed with that view because the Sex Pistols were like nothing that came before and anyone who tried to emulate what they did failed miserably. Over the years, however, I’ve modified that agreement to include Lou Reed. The Sex Pistols would not, could not have existed without Lou and the Velvet Underground, shining a dark lantern over the landscape and not caring if you followed or not.

That [alleged] Brian Eno mis-quote is making the rounds at the moment, and it goes a little something like this: “The Velvet Underground only sold 10,000 copies (or 5,000 or 30,000 depending on the source of this mis-quote), but everyone who bought one went out and started a band.” Whether or not Brian Eno actually said that (sources are fuzzy, I did try to look it up), the gist of it is absolutely true. As I said to a friend yesterday: Without the Velvet Underground, there would be no punk rock. And without punk rock, there would be no Me.

A few years ago, I was in NYC, on my way to a show. I forget which show, but I know I was in the West Village and I was in a hurry because the train was slow and I was about to be late. Because of this, I tripped over one of those infernal little iron fences they put around the trees that jut out of the sidewalk, and fell ass-over-teakettle right there in front of the world. This happens a lot. This particular time, I was trying to right myself and a hand appeared in my vision. I took it, hauled myself up, and said “Hey, thanks.”

To Lou Reed. Only in New York, right?

He said, “Watch where you’re going.”

I will.

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So, this just happened

It’s Monday! Now that I’m working on Sundays, I don’t usually do the grocery shopping on that day. I do it on Monday, which is a teeny bit less annoying because you don’t have to deal with as many Full Families (seriously, grandma does NOT have to come to the grocery store with you) or Grocery Tourists (you will know them by the candied walnuts and quarter-wheel of expensive Brie all alone in the cart). Mondays are much easier for getting in and plowing through the list and getting the hell out.

I’m fairly relaxed about the grocery checkout. Sometimes the line is a bit long and that can get boring, but that’s why God invented Us Magazine, you see. So it’s not bad. I don’t mind waiting. Sometimes the front-end coordinator person comes over and is all “hey, why don’t you step down to lane 5?” That’s always fun, and it happened today. So I moseyed on down to the lane he indicated and it’s a “7 Items or Fewer” lane. Eh, fine. That guy was just standing there, and after all, the other guy TOLD ME to go there. So I did.

Immediately after I entered the lane and started unloading my cart, two people got in line behind me and holy shitballs, you’d think I was smacking a puppy the way they acted.

[note: these people were of the “elderly” variety of human]

The woman directly behind me said nothing, but shot me a pretty nasty look. That’s fair. I’ve done the same, and it’s all good because you know? Someone jumping on the 7 Items lane with a whole cart is kind of a dick. BUT I WAS TOLD TO GO THERE. The elderly gent behind that lady, however, decided to make with the smack talk. AND THEN HE FOLLOWED ME OUT TO MY CAR to yell at me some more.

Here’s an excerpt:

Him: You people are unbelievable.

Me: [ignore]

Him: HEY. DID YOU HEAR ME?

Me: [ignore]

Him: It said SEVEN ITEMS OR LESS.

Me: Um, actually, that’s seven items OR FEWER.

Him: What? What’s the difference? Can’t you count?

Me: Apparently not, but I’ve got this English grammar thing down cold.

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Happy Holidays, bitches

The other day, I was waiting in the school lobby to pick up the Exploding Germ Factory known as my child. If the kid isn’t going on a bus, a parent or someone has to sign them out to walk home. It’s a pain in my ass to have to do this but rules are rules! (Insert obligatory “in my day…” rant. Also, get off my lawn).

And that’s fine – over the past couple of years I’ve been doing this, I have made friends and acquaintances so there are always people to chat with. It’s nice and it makes me even more glad we moved to a cute little town like this instead of a sprawling suburb.

So I’m waiting around, chatting with the other parents, and out of the corner of my eye, I spot a lady I don’t think I’ve seen before. At least, she wasn’t a regular, because I didn’t recognize her. She looked like a perfectly nice lady except for one thing.

Pinned to the front of her overcoat was a button that said “Yes! You may wish me a Merry Christmas!”

My first reaction? “oh, FUCK YOU, lady. Seriously.”

(but only in my head, because I’m not a semi-professional jackass in real life. Only on the internet)

It pains me, physically, to think that someone SPENT MONEY on such a thing and feels a need to wear it around in public and not treat it as the absolute fucking joke that it is. A person who would purchase and wear such a button is probably the type of person who thinks letting The Gays get married is a threat to the American Family. I. ROLL. MY. EYES.

COME ON, people. THERE IS NO WAR ON CHRISTMAS. Ask any Jewish person you know if there is any danger of Christmas going away and they will tell you. If someone wants to wish me a Merry Christmas, I will smile and say it back to them even though I don’t celebrate Christmas anymore (but boy do I want to put up a tree. Ask me about it sometime). If someone wishes me a “Happy Holidays” I will smile and say it back to them and then I will think extra happy thoughts about that person for wanting to include EVERYONE IN THE WORLD instead of just the people who believe in one particular mythology.

There are lots of religions out there and lots of mythologies who are having festive times this month, why not include them all?

But that button just rubs me the wrong goddamned way, and if I happen to run into this lady or anyone else sporting a similar button, I am going to GO OUT OF MY WAY to wish them “Happy Holidays.”

Bitches.

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Nobody loves me

Seriously why didn’t anyone alert me to the existence of Jason Good? Is it because you don’t want me to be happy? IS THAT IT?

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Filed under Musing, Other People

Things I Cannot Stand

So. Freddie is currently flipping channels while I try to figure out how to make coherent sentences out of the things that are floating around in my brain. In my defense, I have had a WHOLE BUNCH of cough syrup today on top of four or five or six beer DON’T JUDGE ME I’M A PROFESSIONAL so writing this post is more challenging than usual.

Anyway, he has landed on Austin Powers in Goldmember, which is fucking terrible, and because of this I am mad at Beyonce.

Because OH MY GOD I don’t care where you’re from but “goldmember” is not pronounced “goldmimber.” It’s not. I don’t care. Regional dialects be damned OH MY GOD IT’S A SHORT ‘E’ NOT A SHORT ‘I’ AND DON’T MAKE ME COME DOWN THERE.

Gah.

Now, as a linguist, I am fully aware that language is a fluid medium that grows and changes at a pace that no printed tome can ever hope to keep up with, but MY GOD FOR FUCK’S SAKE at least pronounce things with some idea of what the sounds are. SHEESH.

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Scotland, Part The Fifth

Read the other four parts first! Why wouldn’t you? I don’t write these for fun, you know. Oh… right.
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Considering the shenanigans that Wednesday night witnessed, a great many of us were up and at ’em early enough on Thursday. Reed greeted me at breakfast with a fresh Bloody Mary, because that guy is a genius. Everyone looked a little rough around the edges except for Michael, who looked like he was rocking the hangover sweats writ large. Poor guy. I am more than a little surprised that I wasn’t hung over at all, despite my Professional Drunk In Public status. I’ve been pro since 1994, and have had less-boozy evenings that resulted in suicidal mornings. There must be something magical about Scotland (duh) that prevents hangovers. I might have to move there.

Anyway, once breakfast was done, we hucked our luggage down to the front door and said our goodbyes. The gang was headed into Tarbert so the GSH boys could visit the office there and the rest of us (Ashley, Jim, Freddie, and I) could do a whirlwind shopping trip at the Harris Tweed Shop (the 2nd one). I struggled mightily, but managed to restrain myself from buying more yarn. I did try, though. I hugged it and everything. It was only when Freddie reminded me that over-weight baggage costs eleventy million dollars to fly nowadays that I reined it in.

Across from the shop was a warehouse, and that warehouse was FILLED WITH TWEED. I’m very happy we didn’t have a whole lot of time to spend or I would still be in there. On the back wall, there was a loom like the one we’d seen earlier in the week. It was obviously in use, judging by the TV that sat on the table nearby and the Barbie-style Duchess Catherine doll next to it. I did NOT take a photo of that, but I totally should have.

Loom
Loom at rest

Across the aisle was an example of an hand loom. It looks very complicated and scary but was really quite a beautiful piece. There were three spinning wheels next to it but I couldn’t get the best photo, unfortunately. I wonder if Freddie would let me get a loom?

Olderloom
Hand loom

On the wall between the two looms was this array of photographs, documenting the tweed process from sheep to store. It used to be done by one person (or family group or similar) and the last known person to do the whole thing herownself, from start to finish was Marion Campbell, who died in 1996. I’m kicking myself now for not picking up a copy of a book that was written about her, because the photos are fascinating.

Tweedprocessphotos
Tweed, from sheep to store

Oh, you can just see the Duchess Catherine doll in the left-hand side of this photo! HA!

Loomagain
Another angle

Tweed, from floor to ceiling, in every shade of tan and grey. The dyes are traditionally made from plants and other vegetation on the island, so if you’re kitted out in full tweed, you might as well be wearing camouflage.

Warehouse
Tweed

MoreTweed
More tweed

StillMoreTweed
I just like to say tweed

We had a flight to catch, so we all got back in the van and went up the hill to the GSH office to pick up the others. Somehow or another, I ended up in the back of the van with Frankie (and Mark, I think), which was a bad idea because we were both a little bit green around the edges when we got to the airport. Luckily, I am cured by terrible coffee, and started feeling better almost instantly once that happened. Just to be safe, I took my Dramamine for the plane ride because the rule is: propellers = nausea.

[side note: Dear Scotland, an Americano is a shit cup of coffee. Get some filters and make me some NORMAL COFFEE next time I’m there. Love, Me]

While we were waiting to board the plane, I was playing with the settings on the camera and got this next shot, upon which I will not comment. [grin]

RockStar
Rock Star?

The island gave us many things over the course of those few days, and I think it was fitting that we were given a rainbow as we got on the plane to leave.

Rainbow
Rainbows are my favorite

We flew into Glasgow and then piled into various cars and vans (Frankie and I in the middle this time) for the short ride to Edinburgh. I love that city and really need to spend more time there. Two days ten years ago and then less than 24 hours this time is not nearly enough. Our hotel in the city was a basic Holiday Inn (not the Parliament House, which would have been tremendously funny), within walking distance to the Royal Mile, which was our first destination. When we’d landed, the sun was almost out, and while it was a bit sprinkly during the drive over, by the time we were ready to head out into town, it was a full-on downpour. Yay for jackets with hoods!

Our first stop, THANK GOD, was a real, actual, what-I-wanted-in-the-first-place pub. Hooray and Hallelujah, plus it was nice to get out of the rain. The bartender was um, handsome, so I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out what I wanted.

Hellothere
Well, hello there.

I can’t believe this is the best picture I got of Frankie, who is one of the most hilarious people I have ever had the good fortune to meet.

Frankie
Frankie on his home turf

It turned out that the beer I’d ordered (with Freddie and Steve copying me like the good boys they are) didn’t have enough in the cask for three full pints, so Mr. Handsome Bartender did a very neat trick to make it two-and-change. Did I mention the bartender was kind of hot?

Bartricks
Bartender tricks

Finally, a photo with Jim and Ashley in it. Great people, those two. We had a wonderful time talking and sharing pictures of our kids and all that jazz.

Gang!
We happy few

Here’s one of Frankie and Jim talking to Ashley and Freddie. Action photos are my favorite.

Frankie/Jim
Throwing back like a pro

It’s true that alcohol is the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems. The rain was pouring on us as we’d entered the pub, but as we left, the sun was out. Beer cures all, and that’s a fact. We made our way up to the Royal Mile and I got a good shot of it. In my head, the Royal Mile and Diagon Alley look exactly the same.

RoyalMile
Royal Mile / Diagon Alley

On our first trip to Edinburgh, we were wandering up the Royal Mile and at one point we’d lost our Freddie. Backtracking to the shop where he’d last been spotted, we found him inside here, talking with the proprietor, who was handing him samples. We were on a tight schedule, so he wasn’t allowed in this time.

Freddiehome
Freddie’s spiritual home (ha, get it?)

At one point, we had stopped to wait while some of our number looked in the shops. We found ourselves standing near the statue of Adam Smith, and I watched as different groups of tourists would come up and get pictures taken in front of the statue, in various strange poses. It seemed like such weird behavior and made me wonder if these people knew that they were making stupid faces in front of the statue of the father of modern economics. I have always tried to avoid stupid vacation photos of that nature (indeed, I have tried to avoid MOST photos of any type) because it’s one thing to look stupid, but it’s quite another to look VERY stupid.

AdamSmith
Adam Smith, the babydaddy of Capitalism

We stopped to wander through St. Giles’ Cathedral, which is completely gorgeous. I’m not a huge fan of religion but I love churches, and this one is just wonderful. The building dates from before 1385, when it was mostly rebuilt following a fire (though some sources claim the four main pillars are 200 years older) and from what I could tell, they built it all at once instead of starting at one end like a lot of cathedrals that date from that time. The late 15th century saw the addition of the crown steeple, which is a prominent feature in the Edinburgh skyline.

StGiles
St. Giles’ Cathedral

Because I should have paid £2 for a “photography permit” and I didn’t, I didn’t use any flash and a lot of my photos aren’t all that great. They wouldn’t have done the place justice anyway because the whole thing is inexpressibly lovely, with different memorials and plaques here and there. The Thistle Chapel is especially amazing.

I’ve never been accused of being straight and narrow, and I think that’s why geometric designs appeal to me so much. Looking upon order and harmony sometimes has a similar effect in my mixed-up brain.

StGilesfloor
Floor detail of St. Giles

George VI isn’t buried here, but there is a memorial to him in the Thistle Chapel. I love these kinds of things, because the churches here don’t tend to do them. I think it makes the building even more interesting, as a way of saying “HEY. HISTORY HAPPENED HERE. LOTS OF IT.”

GeorgeVI
Memorial to George VI

According to the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft, over 3800 people were accused of witchcraft during the years between 1563 and 1736. Apparently, it has been extremely difficult to come up with any kind of reasonable number of people who were actually executed, but on the wall of the Tartan Weaving Mill, there is a small fountain with a plaque below, commemorating the site where “many witches were burned at the stake.”

Witchcraft
Witches’ Well

plaque
“This Fountain, designed by John Duncan, RSA is near the site on which many witches were burned at the stake. The wicked head and serene head signify that some used their exceptional knowledge for evil purposes while others were misunderstood and wished their kind nothing but good. The serpent has the dual significance of evil and wisdom. The Foxglove spray further emphasises the dual purpose of many common objects.”

[Insert obligatory William Wallace/”Braveheart” reference here]

Freedom
You’ll never take it! Or our blue face paint!

To my sadness, we were unable to get into the Castle. It was closed for the day by the time we made our way up there, which is a huge bummer because I wanted to get a photo of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce guarding the front door and maybe visit the Mons Meg and see the view Firth of Forth and pay my respects to St. Margaret’s Chapel (the oldest surviving building in Edinburgh, dating from the early 12th century). It was one of the highlights of our trip there in 2001 and it would have been nice to refresh those memories. Alas, we were too late.

Castle
Edinburgh Castle, from the south

Instead, we walked around, did some window shopping, and took photos of random things.

TronSquare
Tron Square – no sign of lightcycles, though.

Stopped at another pub, obviously.

pint
Pint – possibly one of my favorite words

Calton Hill, home of St. Andrews House, which is the headquarters of the Scottish government. The Hill features prominently in a surprising number of paintings and photographs, and it’s easy to see why.

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Calton Hill

After all the wandering around, we went to dinner at The Dome, which was very fancy and nice. The original building on that site was built in 1775 and was the Physicans’ Hall. It was purchased in 1843 by the Commercial Bank of Scotland and promptly demolished. The building as it stands today was begun in 1844 and the caduceus stained-glass windows (added in 1930) are a nod to the original purpose of the site. The room was beautifully laid out, and our meal was great, but by then, I was just so over food. Everything was starting to be too much. But I rallied and had sticky toffee pudding for dessert so all is right with the world. I keep thinking I have to try my hand at making it, but then I realize that I would weigh 400 pounds if I were successful. So I shall save that particular dessert for my UK jaunts.

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The Dome

After dinner, we went on a tour of the supposedly haunted underground vaults. That started with a museum of sorts that featured various instruments of torture. It’s amazing the sorts of things humans invent in order to do damage to fellow humans. The vaults themselves were fairly interesting – I’m always amazed that cities are just built on top of people sometimes. I’m sure the tour was utterly fascinating, but as I can’t hear in the dark, I was left to watch the others. The vaults share a wall with a pub, and the band in there was playing “Tribute” by Tenacious D which made me laugh and took me completely out of the moment. Oh well. I got a huge laugh at one point because I could see Steve standing next to Frankie and, ever so sneakily, Steve was inching his way behind Frankie in order to scare him. I watched the whole thing happen and nearly fell over trying to stifle a laugh.

After the tour, we got to go to “Edinburgh’s Most Haunted Pub” (mmhmm, sure) for whisky and shortbread. I don’t know about haunted, exactly, but the ladies’ room was something out of Trainspotting and the jukebox was terrible, so close enough I suppose. Freddie and Reed went downstairs to explore a bit and found more instruments of torture on the walls. I was pouting (a little) because I was tired and not getting nearly enough attention (it’s a sickness), but I rallied and we closed out the night in a different pub, laughing our fool heads off.

I got this photo on Monday in an email from Reed:

DungeonFreddie
No, this wasn’t taken in my basement

The next morning, we were up and on our way to the airport by 9AM. After we checked in and all that, we went off in search of breakfast and I wound up sitting next to these gentlemen, who pretty much sum up Scotland.

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9AM kilts and beer

When anyone asks “how was your trip?” My answer is always the same. “It was astounding.” Just really, really, really amazing on all levels. Every other vacation I take is going to be ruined when compared to this one, because I really could not have asked for a better place to stay or a better group of people to stay there with. Any other words I try to use to describe the thing are just not even close to being enough.

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